Let the treatment begin…

We have officially begun round 2 of treatment. As mentioned previously, it’s all geared toward starving the cancer of hormones so that it can’t grow. We learned after my chemo treatment (spring and summer of 2012) that chemo wasn’t very effective. As the Houston Dr Osborne summarized it, ‘you have chemo resistant tumors…’ And, in our last conversation with our Dr. Osborne (Dallas Dr. O) she told us that the recurrence from the liver biopsy showed a very accelerated growth rate of 40% (>20% considered high so they really don’t like this number that is 2x higher than ‘high’). This also means that the anti-hormone therapy we have been doing wasn’t very effective at starving it. So, in the trial, we are now combining 3 meds that, Lord willing, block the cancer cells’ access to estrogen by inhibiting 3 different pathways. Using Dallas highway terms, we are putting back up a blockade on northbound 75 (similar drug that I was using previously) but also trying to block routes via Hillcrest and Greenville too. The estrogen snuck around our previous roadblock. As our doctor explained it, after any traffic block some cars will cut through the grass to service road and, over time, many will do the same. It seems as if the estrogen fought through our previous blockade to go around the roadblock and eventually feed the cancer. This is an impressive and unfortunate feat considering we have taken out my ovaries and gone to great lengths to starve it.

We started at 8:30 with bloodwork and saw my oncologist then transferred to the research area where we have a little private area for them to monitor my heart (EKGs throughout the day) plus half a dozen blood draws (I am glad to have my port again!). Then Cynthia brought Lincoln up. From his standpoint, this round seems is very different than my first diagnosis (he was 8 months old) so we are trying to include him and acclimate him to the doctor’s office and our new reality. He came and saw us in our little treatment/monitoring area and we also took him up to see Dr. Osborne who asked us to bring him because she had a treat for him. It was pretty cute – he walked around the nurses station and directly past all the exam rooms and the other doctor’s offices and went right into her office. It was less cute when he walked in and said ‘can I have my treat?’ 😁 At least he had a huge lovable smile on his face when he rudely greeted her by asking for a treat! Cringe.

When I was in the hospital, Scott and I met with a child life specialist following our doctor’s recommendation that we engage the hospital’s resources to help us prepare Lincoln. She explained some helpful things about how kids process serious illnesses. Since we are here all day, we wanted to introduce Lincoln to her and try to establish a relationship between them. She read a book to him about cancer and gave him a ‘mommy doll’ of a cancer patient. He was pretty cute with the book and answered her questions pretty well – seems to understand I am ‘big sick’ (not to be confused with ‘little sick’ like a cough or cold or tummy ache that he would get) and he knew that I have cancer and it wasn’t contagious. In contrast, things didn’t go so well with the mommy doll because ‘my mommy doesn’t have lellow hair.’ He was quite hung up on the hair color and pretty much disassociated with the doll because of her ‘lellow’ hair. Thankfully, unlike the doll, the conversation ‘took root’. The book was about flowers and weeds – cancer is like the weeds that harm the flowers so sometimes we have to kill the weeds with medicines that also hurt the flowers. Later he pretended to plant some weeds and flowers for Cynthia. Cute.

We are prayerful and hopeful about these medicines. My back pain (lower than the broken rib) has persisted and been quite painful. As such, sleep is hard and it’s hard to carry Lincoln or exercise or be on my feet very long. We will have another scan in 2 months to see how the meds are working – Lord willing, it will stop the growth or, in some cases, shrink the tumors. Over these last 2 weeks off of any medicines and with increased pain, it made Scott and I anxious about its growth and really hopeful that the pain doesn’t continue to escalate. We have had a really sweet Christmas. But it was also sobering and, at times, sad as well. The realities of what we are up against become more and more clear as we have time to think through the implications of a lengthy battle or, if God allows, death. I am increasingly convinced that God hates cancer but loves us. Thankfully, I have never doubted either of those. And we are praying the same for Lincoln.

I’ve attached some pics from our 8 hours at Baylor so far – with 2 more hours to go! As I attach the pictures, the man next to us has started yacking … Nice.

One more ENCOURAGING update…
As I was finishing with these pictures, our clinical trial nurse, Nancy (pictured below holding 2 of my 6 bottles of meds … ) came in to review the drug study protocols with me. Then, as she wrapped up, she exclaimed ‘I am so excited to have someone on this trial!’ She went on to explain that there is so much excitement about putting these 3 drugs together and the few spots that have become available (worldwide) have typically filled up within the first :35 minutes of being announced so it’s been discouraging because near impossible for patients to access the study. And I am the only one in Dallas. She tried to get one other patient on the study but there’s a long list of inclusions and exclusions and they didn’t meet the criteria. Hearing her excitement about the drugs and the rarity of an available slot was very encouraging (He is our provision …). In the past, when she knew of a possible candidate and had called they would offer a study that included 2 of the 3 drugs but never all 3. The Lord has made a way for me to get a slot for all 3 drugs with a very promising potential for treating metastatic breast cancer. In other words, “This is what the Lord says to his chosen one …’I will go before you and level mountains. Bronze doors I will shatter and iron bars I will hack through. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stashed away in secret places, so you may recognize that I am the Lord … “(Isaiah 45:2-3). Yes, Lord, you have. And we thank you.

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18 thoughts on “Let the treatment begin…

  1. I am so sad to hear of your renewed battle with cancer. Sweet Jennifer. As I was reading your blogs, Maggie, now 12, commented, ” I remember her…she helped get the stain out of my dress at your wedding Mom.” Sweet Maggie…I don’t remember that but evidently she does and you left a big impression upon her. She has joined Chris and I in praying for you my friend. You are one in a million. Much love to you.

  2. LOVE the Isaiah verse: I will LEVEL MOUNTAINS!! and love Lincoln and his half-zip sweater & boots. and you look adorbs too :). and how about that nurse and her excitement?! xoxo

  3. Love that you are one of the chosen ones for those 3 meds and will be praying for them to stop the cancer’s growth! And loved all the pics but can’t believe how big Linc looks!!! He’s such a cute little man! I love you all.

  4. Oh friend. Tears. Thankful for your access to this treatment and praying it does miracles. I love the pictures. I hate that Lincoln has to even talk about cancer but trusting His grace will surround him and give him all he needs to process and understand as much as a 3 year old can. I love you so much.

  5. Isaiah 41:13 ‘For I am the Lord, your God,
    who takes hold of your right hand
    and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you’

    He’s got you!!! xoxoxo

  6. I think of you often throughout each day. The Lord sweetly brings you to mind…kinda like He’s saying, ‘Hey, join in this…pray for these ones I love so dearly’. It makes my heart heavy (that the road is hard) and peaceful (that He is the middle, above, below, beside and the center of the entire journey.) Love to you, His precious ones.

  7. Thankful for all you mentioned, especially your heart and the perspective the Lord has given you. Love the rest and reassurance the Lord continues the Lord continues to give amidst this battle. Love you, dear one.

  8. So grateful you get to participate in this treatment plan and that it is underway! Praying He will conitinue to give you, Scott and Linc, His peace, healing of your body, and increasingly more physical comfort along the journey. Love!

  9. So thankful for the new study. Praying for miraculous results!
    We were really thinking about you and your family over Christmas. Know there must have been difficult moments mixed in with all the good.
    “Lord, You establish peace for us; all that we have attained you have done for us.”
    Isaish 26:12
    No matter how big or how small. How cool.

  10. Dear Jennifer,

    I heard your story in church last Sunday. Your battle is so near to my heart because my mom fought the same fight for eleven years. Last month, she joined our Father in Heaven, so I pray for you with extra fervor and love. I pray for supernatural healing for you, knowing that His will for your life is perfect and good.

    Some of the concerns you expressed in your video are concerns that my mom shared: If the Lord chooses to bring me home, will it hurt? And will my child be okay? I would love to offer you the comfort that when my mom’s time came, she was enveloped in a peace like I had never seen. And though I am about twenty years older than your son, I hope it it comforts you to know that the Lord has surrounded me with angel armies since my mom’s passing.

    I miss my mom every day, but I can already see how God has used cancer in my life, my mom’s, and my family’s to highlight His glory. The Lord used cancer to move my wedding to a hospital, where dozens of lives were touched by the Holy Spirit’s presence in our special day–from friends and family to hospital staff and patients. A few weeks later, word of our unconventional wedding spread across news sources and the internet. At first, I felt overwhelmed and defensive, but soon I realized that God was using my mom’s life to spread the gospel. Now, I have heard countless stories of lives touched by my mom’s story of faith.

    Cancer is bad, but God is good. He is weaving your story for his glory, just as He weaved my mom’s and continues to weave mine. Though we can’t always see it, there is divine goodness in suffering and even in death. I know that when the Lord calls you home–be it in the near future or decades from now–He will give Lincoln the same reassurance of his goodness. I earnestly and expectantly pray that that day is many, many years from now.

    Please reach out if there is anything I can do for you and your family. I am fighting with you in prayer. You are such an inspiration. Love, Cathryn Copeland (Wood, now). My email is cathryn.copeland@gmail.com, if I can do anything at all to help you.

  11. Praying for continued renewing of your mind and body. Excited along with you that you are getting to participate in cutting edge treatment. We love you and will be in your corner. Lifting up Scott and Linky Dink too!

  12. We have a bunch of mutual friends, but don’t know each other personally(which probably makes my comment a little creepy #details). Anyway, in our house we pray “Jen 15” throughout the day, anytime you come to mind. Asking the Lord for 15 beautiful, full, active, miraculous years for you, your little buddy and your hubs. “Jen 15” -the Giddens’ Fam

  13. Hey Jennifer, I tried to post but I don’t know if it saved. Anyways, I’m trying again… so, you have the same doctor my mom had at MDA for 14 years. I was wondering if we could meet in person and chat. Also, I always felt bad when I saw you and didn’t really say anything. I’ve been grieving over losing my mom and all of the stuff you have been dealing with the last two weeks is what I walked with my mom through for 14 years. It was just too painful and I’ve tried to shield myself from anyone who had cancer because of my own sadness. But it’s just odd how you and my mom have very similar diagnosis and even where and how the cancer has spread from what I have read is so similar. My mom was so brave to try so many trials that extended her life for many years beyond what they told her. I guess I just really want to connect with you…email me if you would like to talk — kristie (kennemer) wyman

  14. Praying for you guys! So happy that we are on this journey together and can lift you up to our heavenly Daddy. Praying for renewed strength, endurance, joy in the little moments, and sweet times with Mr. Link! Thank you sweet Jesus for holding Jen, Scott, and Lincoln in the palm of your hand. All the Beloved ladies are praying for you. Just think of them singing “Jesus is the Rock and He rolls my blues away…bop shoo bop, shoo bop, Whoo!” Yes, that will bring a smile to your face. Love you so much! Shannon and family

  15. I found your blog through Big Mama’s blog. I was so very sad to hear that your cancer had returned. You were so very inspirational as you documented your first journey and I can see the same beautiful spirit as you befin this new journey. I just wanted to take a moment to let you know you have someone praying for you in Illinois. My thoughts and prayers will continue to be with you and your beautiful family as you travel this difficult road.

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